Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) is a washed-up Broadway producer who seduces elderly women to finance his shows. When Max’s new accountant Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) remarks that more money could be made with a flop, the two then scheme to put together the worst show possible, a musical called “Springtime for Hitler”.
How could this happen? I was so careful. I picked the wrong play, the wrong director, the wrong cast. Where did I go right?
The Producers is one of Mel Brooks’s most acclaimed films, with some even considering it his best. Stunningly enough, it was also the comedic director’s film debut. He instantly made his mark in film with this picture, mixing comedy with controversial subject matters, elements he again infused into his equally revered film Blazing Saddles. As of now, I’ve seen the previously mentioned films and three others; Young Frankenstein remains my favorite (released the same year as Blazing Saddles), and I got a kick out of his takes on Alfred Hitchcock films in High Anxiety and the Star Wars movies in Spaceballs. While those four films equally parodied and paid homage to different genres and films, The Producers seems to stand out more on its own, though it does call back to the backstage musical subgenre that was popular from the 1930s to the 1950s. But because the film and its characters are so outwardly absurd, those sorts of references take a backseat to the antics occurring at the forefront.
The film shouldn’t work as well as it does because of how messed up the story is on paper, but Brooks really pulls it off with his over-the-top characters. And it all could have fallen apart if the right actors weren’t cast. Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder are excellent in their respective roles as a failed Broadway producer and a meek accountant, playing well off of each other well and having fantastic comedic chemistry. The supporting cast is fun to watch too, especially in their interactions with Mostel and Wilder. Overall I enjoyed this movie a lot, and I can’t help but laugh a little when remembering some of the film’s funniest moments, such as the whole “Springtime for Hitler” number. And along with being an amusing watch, it was wonderful to see how strong Brooks’s humor was in his first film, and how much it would improve in later movies.
The Producers (1967)
Directed by: Mel Brooks
Starring: Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Kenneth Mars, Dick Shawn
Oscar Nominations: Best Writing, Original Screenplay [WON]; Best Supporting Actor (Gene Wilder)
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